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The Green Search for Perfection

November 14th, 2016

It’s the common response: Asked at a job interview what his biggest weakness is, he pretends to think for a moment before answering, “I guess I’d say I can be a bit of a perfectionist.” The impression he’s giving is clear. Though he may sometimes be perceived as a bit negative, this is simply a byproduct of his excellent work. In other words, his weakness is actually a strength.

I am a writer, and lately my work has slowed to the point where I spend days rewriting the same sentence over and over. I believe the line will get better, and it does, but what is a reasonable amount of time to spend on a single sentence? Thirty seconds, two minutes, an hour? Certainly not a couple of days! And yet, though I know this to be true, once I’m locked in on it, a sentence isn’t just words and information, it’s an amorphous blob that must, under the threat of humiliation, be poked and prodded into absolute flawlessness before I can even think about moving on.

I’ve begun to think that I’d be a better, more successful writer if I was more willing to fail. Perfectionism affects every aspect of my life. It tells me, “no matter what happened in the past, you can validate it now by being perfect.” Why do I analyze something that, by the count of ten, will no longer exist?

Perfectionists’ relationships can suffer too. I also hold my girlfriend to the same brutal standards as I do myself. Which is wholly unfair…I want the world around me to be as perfect as I should be…

Happiness is a word for weak-minded people, for self-help gurus and “Please share this” Facebook posts. Consequently it’s a word I haven’t spoken aloud often, except to say I’ll have it when I’m perfect.

Even with this almost written, I still fear that I’ll break down and edit it until there’s nothing left… Excerpts from James Nolan post at vice.com

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